New Delh: Days after the cabinet put off a decision on a national manufacturing policy, the government on Tuesday formed a group of ministers (GoM) led by Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar to resolve differences among the concerned ministries on the matter.
Apart from commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma, whose ministry is spearheading the policy initiative, the group will be comprised of environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan, labour minister Mallikarjun Kharge, law minister Salman Khursheed, and micro, small and medium enterprises minister Dinsha J. Patel.
“Though no time frame has been fixed for a decision, we expect a decision quickly,” an industry department official said, requesting anonymity.
The policy aims to create 100 million additional jobs and expand the share of manufacturing from 16% of the country’s gross domestic product at present to 25% by 2025. Its implementation has been delayed due to the lack of consensus among ministers on the proposed environmental and labour policies.
The cabinet deferred a decision on the matter last week after Natarajan opposed certain provisions in the policy.
Rajiv Kumar, secretary general of industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said he was expecting the cabinet to clear the policy directly. “I don’t know what is the need of a GoM on this issue,” he said. “But I hope the GoM will come out with the final policy at the earliest.”
While the environment ministry was initially opposed to the industries department’s proposal to outsource environmental inspections to a special purpose vehicle (SPV), it had subsequently withdrawn its objection, the official cited above said.
“We had agreed to the environment ministry’s demand that additional impact study for hazardous industry should be carried out, while permission for setting up of non-polluting units can be granted by the special purpose vehicle created for the purpose,” the official said. “We had even agreed to the demand that the SPV be headed by a government official.”
The ministry, though, now wants impact the environment impact study to be done even for non-polluting units, the official added.
A spokesperson of the environment ministry said she cannot comment on discussions at a cabinet meeting.
While the labour ministry was initially critical of the proposal to outsource the inspection of industrial units to private parties, the official said the differences have been resolved. “The new proposed policy said government will ‘involve’ the cooperation of the private agencies for statutory inspection.”
However, the labour ministry has opposed the proposal of a centralized trust to act as an insurer and pension fund for employees. “Though the labour ministry is opposing it, we don’t know their apprehensions,” the official said.